Published: Fri, September 01, 2017
Research | By Francis Brooks

Mysterious Radio Signals Detected - What Could That Be?

Mysterious Radio Signals Detected - What Could That Be?

The source in question - FRB 121102 - intriguingly, is the only one known to repeat.

Breakthrough Listen is a global astronomical initiative launched in 2015 by Internet investor and philanthropist Yuri Milner and cosmologist Stephen Hawking. An Indian scientist, working with a million dollar worldwide project "Breakthrough Lister" has succeeded detecting 15 mysterious, repeating Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs), coming from a distant dwarf Galaxy. It resides in a dwarf galaxy about 3 billion light years away from Earth. These FRBs were first detected with the Parkes Telescope in Australia.

"FRB 121102 was discovered on November 2, 2012, which gives it the name (121102)". To make things stranger still, the 15 new bursts detected by the Breakthrough Listen initiative were at frequencies of around 7 GHz, which is higher than any previous FRB we've picked up. "The new data are likely to be helpful in figuring out what's going on here, but of course it could be that this particular object is a member of an "FRB subspecies" - and not typical of most of these weird cosmic screamers", he says.

At the time, it was the first FRB to be discovered; and by 2015, it became the first FRB to be seen repeating.

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The Berkeley Astronomers Telegram reports that the source of these latest bursts, called FRB 121102, is the first to produce repeating FRBs, and this most recent batch of 15 pulses is further reaffirming its repeating nature, strongly ruling out a catastrophic source, such as a supernova explosion. And less than a week ago, they observed 15 Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) coming from a dwarf galaxy located three billion light-years away. In the early hours of Saturday, Aug. 26, Gajjar observed that area of the sky using the Breakthrough Listen backend instrument at the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. Around 400 TB of data was collected by Gajjar during the 5 hour long observation.

"The distinctive shape that the dispersion imposes on the initial pulse is an indicator of the amount of material between us and the source, and hence an indicator of the distance to the host galaxy", Breakthrough said in its report.

Another idea was that these high-energy pulses were thrown off by cataclysmic events like supernovae, but a signal named FRB 121102 took the air out of that theory when it was found to buck the trend of being a one-hit wonder. As well as confirming that the source is in a newly active state, the high resolution of the data obtained by the Listen instrument will allow measurement of the properties of these mysterious bursts at a higher precision than ever possible before. However, it's extremely certain that these radio signals started they journey long before multi-cellular life even existed on Earth. However, now, several other radio telescopes have been able to detect FRBs.

"We do know that the universe is capable of producing intelligent civilizations that can produce technology", said Siemion.

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